Kelly Moseley was determined to become a mother. Not even 20 miscarriages over a 10-year time span could break her will and today she’s the ecstatic mother of a son, Tyler, who will celebrate his first birthday in April.

Kelly attributes her successful venture into motherhood to Dr. Hassan Shehata, a specialist in miscarriage that Moseley first saw on television. By this time, she’d miscarried 11 times, all at about 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Her family and friends were begging her to give up the dream, that the recurrent miscarriages were too heart-rending to continue.

Moseley didn’t give up, though. She married Alan Moseley in 2002 and had been trying to have a baby ever since. She believed Shehata could make it happen.

Shehata is a consulting Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Epsom and St. Helier University Hospitals National Health System (NHS) Trust in Surrey, England. Moseley had seen him in a televised interview in which he discussed his work on recurrent miscarriages. His words encouraged her to continue the dream and to contact him.

Shehata discovered that Moseley’s immune system included some extremely aggressive “natural killer cells” that went into attack overdrive when Kelly was pregnant. The killer cells responded to the fetus as if it were an undesirable foreign body and waged war with it until the pregnancy ended.

Shehata often turns to steroids to get these natural killer cells under control so a pregnancy can proceed to term but, in Moseley’s case, steroids had no effect. Shehata suggested something completely new.

He proposed giving Moseley a drug called hydroxychloroquine, an immune modulator used for treating malaria. It lowers immune system activity so Shehata thought it might lower the activity of the natural killer cells preventing Moseley from achieving her dream of motherhood.

Moseley agreed to take the drug but the miscarriages continued. Within the first year of taking the drug, two of Moseley’s pregnancies actually lasted as long as five months but ended in miscarriage nevertheless. She didn’t give up.

She continued taking hydroxychloroquine and soon became pregnant again. The pregnancy didn’t end spontaneously as so many others had so hopes were high. Preeclampsia complicated things but this time, Moseley’s dream came true.

Tyler was born in April 2013 just after 28 weeks of gestation. He weighed less than 3 pounds. Baby Tyler spent a long time in a special baby care unit before he was declared well enough to go home, where he will soon enjoy his first birthday party.

Since Moseley’s success with hydroxychloroquine, about a dozen other women have taken it, with a success rate of about 70%. Shehata says the drug is not the holy grail but is very safe to take during pregnancy.

Source: “Baby born to woman who suffered 20 miscarriages.” BBC News / Health. BBC. Jan 17, 2014. Web. Mar 7, 2014.